“Hold to the now, the here, through which all future plunges to the past.”
— James Joyce, Ulysses
In Ireland, I felt American and ashamed. My knowledge of current European politics is pitiable at the moment, squeezed out by my own selfish preoccupation with my own self (and Charlie Sheen). My summary of the Irish economic situation, despite my alleged worldliness and grand inquisitive mind, was “Not good, right?” When I mentioned to a local lad I was in the motherland, he asked where from in Ireland my family originally hails. I had absolutely no clue, and I muttered something aimless about the O’Callahans who’d so quickly dropped the “O” in a once-common display of heritage-related heresy.
The Irish worldview is so bleak it is utterly optimistic. For things are so constantly terrible, or about to become so again, that we may as well belly up to the bar and regale each other with stories of better days. A chap in the pub was insistent that Jon Bon Jovi is completely bald. He knows because he provided security for said New Jersey cowboy at a recent Dublin appearance. It’s a feggin wig, I seen it. It seemed to be the only thing he knew for certain at the moment, and he grasped that tidbit desperately to counterbalance his wobbling finances and sobriety.
There were two of us in the James Joyce Centre on an otherwise bustling Saturday in Dublin. It takes a certain obsessive gusto to visit one of these literary mini-shrines, staffed by young people with Ph.D.’s in Finnegans Wake. I paid gladly to soak up the manufactured essence of one of the globe’s finest wordsmiths. It soothed me to think that famine and war and irrational exuberance can inspire such transcendent prose. I even lifted a quote that I then employed to make my blog appear ever slightly more sophisticated.
Terrible mysteries are befalling our frail planet, everywhere. Our financial markets react with misdirected panic. We lose ourselves in the jagged chronology of taut headlines we already know. I am wholly unsure how many reactors have exploded, how many porn stars Charlie Sheen lives with, how many years of blight and turbulence await the people of Libya and its turmoil-drenched neighbors.
We spend our lives in the pursuit of beautiful things, as best our time and finances will allow. I fail on a daily business to add something to the conversation, but that’s OK. It all adds up to a collective ephemeral history, perhaps a speck of dust in the cosmos, but something to noodle on early Tuesday morning to keep the gears turning.
In reality, I just need to attempt to get deep after my morning coffee to offset the way I start every day now, with a glance at (OK, a thorough deconstruction of) @CharlieSheen on Twitter. I’m uncertain whether I’m more disturbed by the picture he posted of his supposed carry-on bag (don’t think that will get through security, even special celebrity security) or by my inability to procure tickets to his San Francisco Torpedo of Truth gig (Can I get a miracle? Anybody?).
There is no such thing as a Charlie-Sheen-related non sequitur. One could say this post was a lighthearted examination of Celtic tiger’s blood, perhaps the finest Before and After question Jeopardy! will never prompt. Rimshot!